Updating Results

Should you do a Master of Counselling?

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Millions around the world seek comfort from professional counsellors. Whether or not it’s a profession for you depends upon a few things.

Counselling is a highly-regarded profession due to the volume of people who require it. It serves an important purpose regarding psychological issues that is quite distinct from psychiatry or psychology. Psychiatrists, for instance, are medical doctors licensed and knowledgeable enough to prescribe medicine and deal with complex mental illnesses. Psychologists provide expertise in not only conditions like depression or anxiety, but resolving personal distress as well.

Counsellors play an important role at the other end of the spectrum, typically in helping mentally healthy people cope with life problems. Whether clients are considering a change of career, concerned about their relationships or need ongoing emotional support for other reasons, counsellors are ideal.

This profile is admittedly simplistic, but from it there are three important questions to be observed that can help determine whether or not the Master of Counselling would suit you.

1. Are you secure in your own emotional state?

Taking on the emotional trials and tribulations of others whilst remaining empathetic can be a significant drain, even for the most secure of individuals. If you’re someone currently struggling to cope with distressing life events and suspect you’ll lack the means to cope in future, this might be quite a difficult line of study and work. Remaining not only impartial but objective in the face of significant emotional distress is one of the most difficult yet important aspects of counselling. It’s very difficult to build a client-patient relationship if you’re breaking down right alongside them and relating their concerns with yours.

If you are someone who suffers with your own psychological distresses however, there are many people who can help and care a great deal about you. Mental Health Australia is a gateway to a variety of hotlines and services dedicated to assisting a variety of mental conditions, from depression and anxiety to troubling life events. With sufficient help and ongoing support, it’s quite possible to become an emotionally secure person and subsequently enter the counselling profession yourself. In the meantime, it’s likely wise to avoid entering the profession for now.

2. Are you prepared for the entry requirements?

At a minimum, a bachelor degree from any discipline is required. For some courses like those offered by Monash University, a credit GPA is also mandatory (5/7, or roughly 65%). This can be circumvented by completing a graduate certificate or diploma of counselling beforehand, however. Entering via this route can even reduce the time it takes to complete the subsequent master’s program, potentially resulting in no net time lost.

It also pays to be wary of institutions that deviate from the aforementioned admission standard. James Cook University, for instance, requires applicants to have been from a cognate discipline to gain entry. This can mean one of, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Career Development
  • Education
  • Health
  • Law
  • Psychology
  • Social work

This requirement can also be circumvented via the graduate certificate or diploma route.

Finally, it is sometimes the case to be faced with an interview before entry is granted. This entails faculty assessing whether or not you’re the sort of person who’d excel in this field and whether or not there are elements of your personality that are unsuitable. When faced with this requirement, it becomes particularly important to observe the first question, as any psychological frailties will likely be picked up here.

3. Do you have the money and/ or time to take on this commitment?

All master’s degrees are expensive, so prospective students should consider their familial and personal obligations carefully before applying. Fortunately, there are government funding options available for Master of Counselling students via Austudy. A selection of disciplines have this option available to them based on whether or not the course is the most efficient method of gaining employment in the associated field. A stipend between $240 and $570 per fortnight (determined by age and circumstances) is accessible to students across several approved counselling courses, including but not limited to:

The question of time commitment also can’t be discounted, despite part-time options being available. Time spent studying in the evenings after work is less time spent with loved ones, friends or hobbies that help you relax. A part-time master’s degree is around four years if you didn’t enter via a cognate discipline, graduate certificate or diploma. Even if you did, it’s still a roughly three year commitment. So, it pays to be very sure this is something you

  • Have the will to do
  • Have the means to do
  • Have the familial support to do

Counselling can be an exceptionally rewarding profession and the Master of Counselling is a great entry point. If you can answer yes to these questions, it’s quite possible you’d be well suited. Just remember that ultimately, your own personal circumstances dictate whether or not it’s a good decision. Good luck!